Crank

An Abram man (q.v.). So called from the German krank (sickly), whence cranky, “idiotic, foolish, full of whims,” and cranks (simulated sickness). These beggars were called cranks because they pretended madness and sickness to excite compassion.

Source: Dictionary of Phrase and Fable, E. Cobham Brewer, 1894
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